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Some products should stay on television and out of kitchens

If there's one market that's saturated with countless metric tons of gadgets, gizmos and doodads, it's kitchen equipment. Rolling garlic slicers. Finger spoons. Occasionally, a winner or two elbows through the crowd of future yard sale fodder, like when a dedicated strawberry huller earned an endorsement from America's Test Kitchen toy tester Lisa McManus.

My personal favorites, if there can be such a thing in this category of paraphernalia, are the sweeping range of “as seen on TV” products.” Hours can easily be lost watching the commercials for them, and one can often find the products choking up shelf space of discount retailers like Walmart and Dollar General.

In the name of public service, and to perhaps uncover an unheralded gem, I've amassed a small collection of these contrivances, all of which fall in the $10 price range, for the purpose of exhaustive scrutinization.

Egg & Omelet Wave

Zapping eggs in the microwave is fun. They poof up like a giant soufflé, then settle back down once the heat kicks off. The plastic clamshell of the Egg & Omelet Wave Microwave Omelet Cooker attempts to harness that phenomenon, allegedly alleviating the drudgery of preparing a basic breakfast item. I'm a fierce advocate of reading the manual. My basic philosophy on cooking is that if you are both literate and capable of following instructions, a good cookbook can turn you into an adequate maker of meals.

A NEW MATURITY: For 2014, Toyota upgrades its popular Highlander CUV

  1. We love the toggle switches Mini always has used, and those remain, though laid out differenttly and assigned to different functions. Upholstery in our tester would make a Jaguar jealous. All-in, we think the new-size, new-power Mini Cooper is best yet
  2. And, at least in Limited guise like our tester, the most luxurious. There's plenty of stretch-out space for driver The Highlander's V-6 is a gem of a powerplant: Smooth and powerful, it propels the 4,500-pound CUV with ease. The six-speed automatic
  3. This 1.8-liter, twin-cam, turbocharged gem delivers punchy performance paired with excellent fuel economy – and it does it on regular-grade fuel. Paired with a slick-shifting six-speed automatic in our midlevel SE tester, the new drivetrain delivers

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